Review and Salary Advice


So I have my bi-yearly review coming up and I am planning on asking for a raise. I feel that I am underpaid for the work I do and am looking for advice on A) whether comparatively others think I am underpaid and B) what/how I should go about asking.

I'll start by laying out everything about where I'm at. I have been working at my office for 9 months and this is my first architectural job. I am currently still a student going for my BArch with 4.5 out of 6 years completed. I work full time and go to school at night. My title is an architectural intern and I make 30,000 a year without benefits, with 10 vacation days and paid overtime. The firm I work at is a small firm (12 architects) which focuses on educational/healthcare/labs.

I feel that I have a lot of responsibilities/opportunities for my experience and position. I work on every level of projects from sd to ca. When I was hired I was the first person in the office with proficiency in Revit and have developed that program for both CDs and renderings for the firm. I have a few projects that I basically run by myself from design to pricing so far, which I consult minimally with a project architect on. I sometimes, but not always, go to design and construction meetings by myself. And we've landed our biggest project ever recently, which I have so far had a major role in schematic design.

I also work part time at a restaurant on the weekend for the extra money. There have been a few times that I was asked to come into work on the weekend for some important deadlines, but because of my job I was unable to. I believe the only person that knows that I have a second job is the project manager that I work with most and I don't think he will be in the review.

According to AIA Compensation report, a person with my title, in my area at a small firm should be making 38-40k a year. I would like to know what people think i should be making and what would be a reasonable raise I could ask for and how to go about it.

Jan 25, 14 9:46 pm

What is your geographical area?

What are other colleagues / students/ someone you know personally is being compensated?

Dont be deceived, if one person in your office knows you are working part-time else where, everyone knows, small office is like a small town, the fire chief is also the mayor, who is also the pastor..........etc.

That being said,

A) you have not finished your degree

B). you have a total of 9 months work experience which means your are "jumping the IDP hurdle" which you basically cannot do without a job, & you need 3yrs of idp......see where im going with this

c). CA is basically submitals, payments, change orders, punch list, & site observations, are you positive this is what you have been doing over 9 months?

D) THEY HAVE 12 ARCHITECTS!!!!! WOW!!! thats not a small firm

E) you are gaining invaluable experience, thats an investment that out weighs any raise at this point for you.

Based on everything you said, Imho, I would not ask or hint for a raise until my employer brought it up, but i definitely would not recommend asking for a $5k - 8k raise. i think you would embarrass yourself. at the most $1 or $1.50 an hour raise

im in the midwest w, 3.5yrs pre-degree experience, 3yrs post degree experinece, 1year construction estimating experience, a masters in arch., and have taken 3 A.R.E. test and i only make 40k!! if that helps

Jan 26, 14 8:41 am
Non Sequitur

Philly, without a license or even a completed degree plus no experience (9 months is very little), you should expect an hourly wage between $14 & $16 which, depending on your weekly hours is close to 30k/year.

You're asking a 25% raise and that's ridiculous. I'll second the above post and that $1/hour is the most you should ask for (~2k raise) and accept half as a compromise. Students with "proficiency" in X and Y software are plentiful and they unfortunately there are probably another dozen waiting in the shadows ready to take your spot.

Jan 26, 14 12:00 pm

I live and work in Philly (philly arch lol). And I do do all that CA while consulting with the project architect  on anything I have questions on. I'm not saying that is the raise that I'm asking for. But that's what is what's the "going rate" for a person with my title, at that size firm in the "mid Atlantic" area, although that probably is based on people with their degree completed  

Jan 26, 14 12:27 pm
Non Sequitur

Philly, have a look here:

Set it to Philly, experience <1 and job title at intern

Jan 26, 14 12:58 pm

 Either you're a super genius or i'm a super dummy.

I have about 8 yrs exp, an M. Arch, IDP 90%, and about to take my 3rd ARE.

I make about 52k and feel like i'm no where near ready to take on the responsibility that you have 9 mths into your first job. 

Jan 27, 14 1:00 pm

The thing is we do smaller projects, mostly renovations (some smaller, but mostly large) and only a few ground up buildings. Most projects usually only have a project manager, project architect and  a designer/intern. Each project architect has several  projects (can be about  5-8) projects going at once. So with so many projects and so few people per team, I get the opportunity to do a lot of things that I may not be able to at another office. I really like working here because of that. I do a lot of work but 98% of the time end up passing it through a project architect before I send anything out. I feel it's hard for me to gage where I'm at and what I should be making because of all of this.  I really appreciate everyone's input and help   

Jan 27, 14 1:28 pm


a couple k would be a good amount to ask for.  My focus would be on learning as much as you can now, the money will come once you graduate.  you might mention in passing that if you didn't have to have a second job you could be more flexible with your time

Jan 27, 14 1:49 pm
You're young, in school and that minor increase won't make much difference overall. Soak up the experience and show you are loyal. I never made more than $15/hr prior to graduation. Post-grad you'll show them that you are worth the investment and they will give you an offer to match your potential.

If they don't, screw them and take that talent elsewhere. Companies make offers based on potential, not current ability. You are doing the work of an intern now, get your degree and you'll be poised to make the next step in responsibility (and pay).
Jan 27, 14 8:24 pm

Im with Shuellmi, unless you are working in some "gorilla office", fell into some toxic waste and came out a super architect master mind, start shadowing a relative at age 9, or your office only does very tiny residential projects really dont see how someone who has never had a job in this field, & 9 years of experience, can even know where to begin to handle  such responsibility as yours. I understand architecture doesnt start and stop with me, and i am in no ways the industry standard (although i strive to be), I really find it extremely difficult that some one at your skill level is really impacting all phases of A/E services. Especially if you guys have 12 licensed architects. i have never worked for a company with that many architects and the largest company i worked at was a staff of 50 with only 3 licensed architects, 1 licensed p.e. and 6 degreed designers. I thin

Jan 27, 14 8:52 pm

Thank you Lits, that is a good way to look at.

And I'm sorry s=r if you think I'm lying or something; exaggerating my experiences won't do me much good with this, would it.  I just take advantage of the opportunities that they give me, and like I said, I consult and work with each project architect pretty closely. I don't work on each step of every project that in depth; but they also don't treat me like a rendering monkey.

Jan 27, 14 9:14 pm

philly, In no way do I think you are lying, (there was a time when you once believed in santa clause, & people honestly believed the earth was flat)

Jan 27, 14 11:21 pm
won and done williams

I would ask for a $2k increase. Write out your rationale for why you deserve the increase (check for spelling and grammar!) and submit it/discuss it at your performance review. 

[Honestly, if your firm is paying you $30k/year with no bennies (technically illegal, you should be hourly), they are pretty cheap, and I would not count on getting a big raise. They are likely billing your time out at least 3-4 times what they are paying you. Keep the job - it's good experience while you are in school, but I would explore your options after you graduate.]

Jan 28, 14 9:26 am

Thanks Williams, I actually forwent benefits in my initial negotiations for a higher salary since, I still have a few years that I am able to be on my parents plan. So I can't hold anything against them there.

And as far as I know, all of our projects are billed hourly since they're smaller and I've seen what they bill for me. It's almost 7x what my 'hourly pay' is.

Jan 28, 14 9:52 am
won and done williams

I've seen what they bill for me. It's almost 7x what my 'hourly pay' is.

That's borderline unethical, but hey, at least, they are transparent about it. As you will find in your pro prac classes, most firms bill at 3-4x their direct expenses (1/3 for employee compensation; 1/3 for overhead/administrative expenses; 1/3+ for profit). It depends a bit on your market, but most interns I've seen are billed in the $50-70/hr range.

Jan 28, 14 10:43 am

Wow, that's really good info to have, thank you. Would you recommend using that as a guide for my review? Or is that just too much to ask for and I just accept that they're doing it? The thing is, I really like working here because of all the opportunities and responsibilities they give me. I guess that's why they say you can't have it all, huh.

Jan 28, 14 11:03 am

And I'm not saying asking for that 1/3, but bring that billing rate up in the review?

Jan 28, 14 11:27 am

i would not include that in your review.  if they are billing at 7x your current salary, it might be safe to say they don't consider that a valid metric.

however, you may be able to point out how many billable hours you had over last year or whatever.  so, if you say, i brought in $210,000 and you paid me $30,000, that might be a more valid way of pointing out that you are bringing value to the firm, and it might be worth it for them to offer you a raise.

Jan 28, 14 11:50 am
won and done williams

They know that they are billing you at 7x what they are paying you, and they are doing it anyway, so I wouldn't bring it up. It will just irritate them that you are questioning their management. I would frame the conversation in terms of what you do bring to the firm, your solid work on projects, your relationships with clients, etc. 

Since you do like working there, I wouldn't rock the boat too much. Get what you can from a financial and experience perspective out of this job (in my opinion a $2K increase would be reasonable), but that's why I say, you may want to explore other options in a few years if they don't provide progressive and substantial improvement in your compensation after you graduate.

Jan 28, 14 12:13 pm
the orange menace

I really wouldn't bring the billing rate up in a review. Unless you have additional knowledge about the overhead, etc, experienced by the firm as a whole then you don't necessarily have the appropriate context needed to challenge their billing practices. And, more importantly, it's likely to come off the wrong way.

About the OP - what 'title' are you going by to estimate salary? I'd argue that you're not an 'intern architect', but simply (no offense) and 'intern'. The distinction being a degree, and justification in asking for a bump to $38k+.

I would say that the 'without benefits' bit is BS, however. I know you're on your parents health care, but now when you need benefits it will seem to them like a kind of raise. If you're thinking about staying there after graduation I'd ask for benefits and a little bit more $ now.

Jan 28, 14 12:37 pm

Won & done, I understand every state is diff, but i do believe tech. the only benefit an employee must offer is vacation. & (obviously workers comp)

@ Philly Arch, like i said, sounds like a gorilla firm, take everyone's sound advise here and get the degree, experience, 2k raise & explore your opt's later

Jan 28, 14 3:13 pm
won and done williams

When I wrote "technically illegal," I was not referencing his lack of benefits, but rather that the OP stated that he was being paid "$30K salary." An employee still in school should be classified as an hourly employee (not salary) who is entitled to 1 1/2 times his or her hourly wage for hours worked beyond 40/hours per week - this per the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Jan 28, 14 4:07 pm
won and done williams

But again, to the OP, I wouldn't get all high and mighty when you go into your evaluation throwing around the Fair Labor Standards Act or billing multipliers. Simply layout your contribution to the firm, ask for a couple thousand dollar raise, gain some good experience in the next couple years (this job is certainly offering that), and possibly in the future leverage that experience for a better paying position either there or elsewhere.

Jan 28, 14 4:12 pm
If you are as good as you say at revit and you can hack the commute to NYC I'll hire you at 42k w 15 vacay days (paid hourly at 20$/hr, 1,5xtime for OT)
Feb 1, 14 12:57 am
If you are as good as you say at revit and you can hack the commute to NYC I'll hire you at 42k w 15 vacay days (paid hourly at 20$/hr, 1,5xtime for OT)
Feb 1, 14 12:57 am

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